In late August I wrote about the inspiration of Dathan Ritzenhein’s American record in the 5,000 in 12:56.27.
More impressive to me, though, was his third place at the World Half-Marathon champs. Unfortunately, it does not appear to still be available on Universal Sports. There were many times when he could have just faded away. He didn’t. Although Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea opened up a lead late, easily winning his third consecutive HM championship, Ritz held tough, just being outkicked by Kenya’s Benard Kiprop Kipyego, 59:59 to 1:00:00. He said (thanks to TK),
- When Tadesse took off and only myself and one other guy went with him, that was a big step for me. Then again with two or three kilometers to go, when I was really paying for going with Tadesse, I had to force myself to stay with it when Kipyego caught up to me. Even though I was outkicked at the end, I fought all the way and that really is why I feel that this was my best race of the year.
We all suffer, and it’s, as I say, inspirational to see others push through and maybe, just maybe, that thought will help me make it through. (Here’s a photo I took of Ritz and Ryan Hall at the 2007 OT Marathon. For both, it was a wonderful moment of pure joy, first and second at the trials.)
[edited to add: The first time I saw Ritz (and Ryan Hall for that matter) was watching the 2003 NCAA X-C Champs. It was very, very cold, and it was also the first time I saw runners in compression shorts. Stanford’s fifth guy was something like 11th, but Ritz outkicked Ryan Hall for the win.]